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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Responsibility

It is fitting to me that Barrack Obama decided to focus on personal responsibility when he spoke today. I have actually given this idea a lot of thought over the last few months. I have always taken a great deal of responsibility for the things I do and the things that come to pass in my life. At times I have done this to a fault, accepting responsibility for things I cannot single-handedly control but always wishing I could. To me, Obama is the epitomy of responsibility. I rest easier knowing that he will do everything within his power to make things right. He was absolutely right to call on citizens to also take personal responsibility for change.

My deep hope is that his message actually gets through to people. I realize he cannot do this all alone. None of us can but we must take responsibility for our own little corner of the globe.

Here begins my brief rant... I have become increasingly frustrated with my students lately because of their unwillingness to take responsibility for anything that happens to them. Obama is right to say that we need to improve education in this country but to do this, we will also need a major increase in personal responsibility on the part of parents, students and the community at large. Some educators may be failing our students but the responsibility does not lie solely with individual teachers and school districts, it lies with everyone involved.

During a typical day I listen to endless student complaints. I literally touch almost every desk in the room and have an individual conversation with each kid to get them started on their daily warm up. My classes are entirely routine-based, objectives and agenda are posted and I go over my expectations in detail in English and Spanish for every class. Usually I repeat myself multiple times and then walk around to each student. Still, over half the class does not get to work. Then I poke and prod at every kid and still at least a third of the kids still drag their feet. I have some students who just expect an "A" and get offended when I don't give them a perfect score and offer them feedback. Many of them act like I am mean for asking them to be silent when I talk, put away their cell phones and do the assignment. They act shocked when I take points off their participation grade. They also act shocked when I take points for their continual cheating and copying. Some of them never even take responsibility when they are caught red-handed in the act of copying and/or cheating. I get questions like, "Miss, why you put me an F?" Why indeed? You did nothing and you earned the F. The concept that grades are earned has not registered with most of my students. No wonder education is a mess.

All this said, I still take personal responsibility for what happens in my room. I try to focus more. I rewrite my plans in pursuit of greater excellence. I conference with students and parents about grades and behavior. I own my role in the room and I take responsibility when I am not on. Like Obama, I just want those I serve to take some responsibility because no one person, no matter how amazing, can do it alone.

10 comments:

pat said...

hey Nadja, I have really been out of the loop-traveling and landing in many different arenas.(sorta like the human trampoline,Paul Simon sings of)I'm now getting around to reading your past (and present) blogs and am enheartened to see you doing somewhat better.I am falling under the spell of the New Year's whispers too, and will hopefully toast her old age with the sweetest of wines come December.I hope 2009 for you will be void of fear and it's landscape rich with love and friendship. Shalom-Pat

Conquer MS said...

Nadja:
Didn't know you were a teacher. What you talked about in your post I was going to touch upon but left it for another day perhaps. So true, blame it on someone else. And taking charge of MS is the same. God gives to those who help themselves. Please email me at my address posted on my site. I'm interested on you doing a guest post- that's if you wish.
Robert

BRAINCHEESE said...

Nadja,

Many apologies for NOT getting around here of late to do some necessary reading...but I am pleased to scroll back through your last weekish of posts and discover you ARE feeling better physically and emotionally! WooHoo!

Yes, a new day has dawned in America...let us return to practicing what we innately know to be our truth without fear of persecution...

Linda D. in Seattle

Serina said...

I totally agree with you! Unfortunately, Responsibility doesn't seem real for alot of children. I don't think its necessarily because these children are bad, but rather because they don't know any better. This is not something that teachers should be forced to teach, and yet teachers get blamed for alot. I think you are doing a wonderful job! Despite times when it doesn't seem like its making an impact, know that while it may not be appearent right now, these kids are better for the lessons of responsibility you teach them. My favorite teachers ended up being the stricter ones in school, because they were consistent, and not wishy-washy.

Good Role models are hard to come by in this day and age. Many parents are not good role models themselves in this aspect. Don't get me started on the immature, irresponsible nature of celebrities, and professional athletes who don't seem to have to own up to wrong doings too often.

We are only as strong as our weakest link, and unfortunately we as a nation have much to repair in front of us. Obama is definitely right.

I am very excited even for my children, to have this President be an infusion of hope, innovation, and responsibility. To have someone in the spot light for once that values hard work, and intelligence.

Denver Refashionista said...

Pat, glad to see you back. Happy new year to you.

Denver Refashionista said...

Robert, I'm flattered. I just emailed you.

Denver Refashionista said...

Good to see you around and about Linda :)

Denver Refashionista said...

Serina, you make some excellent points. BTW, I can tell you are a great mom. We need more parents like you.

Joan said...

We, as a nation, have lost a sense of personal responsibility. We are quick to sue, to blame others, to expect to be given everything. This feeling of "entitlement" really bothers me and I hope that this country can get back to being responsible. But it does start with individuals. This is going to be difficult to change.

Will you be at our chat on Friday?

LISA EMRICH said...

The topic of responsibility is an interesting one when associated with education. I agree with you whole-heartedly that each person involved (student, parent, teacher, community at large) needs to own their role.

In teaching music one-on-one to students of various ages, and several of them for many years, I've had contact with a wide variety of student and families.

For the kids who NEVER do their part, the hard day-to-day work, and whose parents think that it is MY fault they are failing, I remind them that the one attached to the fingers in question is responsible for training them.

I can guide the way and shine light on the path, but it is the student who must create the music. I can't do it for them.

Over many years, I've only had one student whose parents pulled them out of my studio because they thought that I wasn't doing a good job. Actually, what they wanted was someone who would "show" their child how to do everything by rote rather than teach the child how to become her own teacher and ultimately more independent.

Personal responsibility should be applied to all aspects of one's life. Thank you for shining the light on that path for your students. My kudos to you.